UAA Athletics

Vishe’ Rabb’s fabulous season debut propels a UAA upset and brings her comeback ‘full circle’

In early March, Vishe’ Rabb had to be carried off the court after suffering a torn ACL in the University of Alaska Anchorage women’s basketball team’s loss to Seattle Pacific University in the first round of the 2023 GNAC championships.

Nine months later, she made her season debut on Thursday night at the Alaska Airlines Center and carried the Seawolves to their biggest win of the season in a thrilling 61-54 upset of reigning GNAC champion Western Washington.

“My coaching staff has been instrumental in helping me get back and giving me confidence,” Rabb said. “My teammates have been amazing, reassuring me where my role is on the team. There was not really a reason for me to falter at all because they really just instilled my standing on the team.”

The senior guard didn’t waste any time making her presence felt on the court by recording the first steal, rebound, and bucket of the game against the No. 14-ranked Vikings. She recorded five of UAA’s first eight points and finished with a team-leading 16 points. Even though she saw just 17 minutes of action, Rabb made the most of her limited playing time and seemed to come up with a clutch play every time the team needed it the most.

“She’s an All-American, and everything she does is at a very, very high standard,” UAA head coach Ryan McCarthy said. “I was a little bit surprised that statistically, she did what she did tonight just because your first game back, you don’t know what to expect. When (Western) started to make a run, every time they did, it was Vishe’ Rabb who was coming up with a steal or a big rebound, or an and-one. She just was making big plays for us.”

In her final game last season, Rabb scored 16 points in 27 minutes before going down with her injury last year, so to put up the same number of points despite playing 10 minutes less in her debut was a “full circle” moment for her.

“I couldn’t even hold back the happy tears at the end,” she said. “It’s been a lot of work with my teammates, with my coaches, and with myself.”


The win extended the Seawolves’ winning streak to five in a row. It marks not only their first conference win of the season but also their first time besting the Vikings since February 2020.

“They’re always really good, and we have a strong rivalry with them,” McCarthy said. “It’s a fun game to get up for. It’s fun for our team to be able to have someone in the conference that’s been up there with us the last decade, and we have a lot of respect for them. So that win feels great.”

To tip off the new year and the second half of the season with an impressive win over a quality opponent filled Rabb and the team with tremendous confidence.

“2024 has been good to us so far,” Rabb said. “We want to fix our standing in the conference. We’re on the wave and we don’t want to lose it, so there’s no looking back.”

Her mentality coming out of the gate Thursday was to be efficient because she knew her playing time would be limited in her season debut.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to play 20 or 30 minutes just coming back, so with a limited time, I just wanted to make sure that my minutes really contributed to the team effort,” she said. “I’m really happy with how I played and with how everyone played.”

McCarthy struggled to find the words to fully encapsulate just how impressive Rabb’s dazzling debut was, aside from expressing how overwhelmingly proud he was of her.

“She’s worked so hard, and the timing of her injury, she’d already graduated. She didn’t need to come back, and going down in our last game against SPU, I truly felt we were going to win that game in the conference tournament, and our next game would have been Western Washington,” he said.

Rabb’s return gave the Seawolves not only an extra jolt of talent but leadership as well.

“She’s our team leader,” he said. “When Vishe’ is on the floor, everybody tries to reach what her standard is because she just has a different level of maturity to her.”

Prior to its winning streak, UAA had opened the season by dropping seven of their first nine games including six straight at one point. With only three healthy returners to start the season, McCarthy knew the road might be bumpy early on.

“We’ve had a lot of growing pains and unfortunately, it cost us a couple of games,” he said “But I do feel like our team is a lot more bought into the defensive end, and they’re bought into their work outside of the lines that no one else sees.”

Last season was Rabb’s first in the program after transferring in from Augustana University, and she was having tremendous success, averaging 16.8 points and 6.3 rebounds a game.

McCarthy credits Rabb’s almost instantaneous success last year to her willingness to buy into the program and its culture.

“She came here because she wanted to compete for championships, and she wanted to be the very best version of herself,” McCarthy said.

As grueling as her nearly 10 months of rehabilitation were to go through, Rabb is grateful for the experience of having to overcome that adversity because of how it has helped improve her overall game.

“It definitely was something that pushed me to be even a better player than I was before,” she said. “It’s instilled an even better work ethic for sure. Rehab and coming back for energy requires a lot of discipline, so I had to stay on myself for those nine or 10 months. The game is always going to reward hard work, so I’ll just stick with it.”

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.